US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan warned Iran on Wednesday that the Biden Administration “will not waiver in protecting and defending all Americans against threats of violence and terrorism.”
“Should Iran attack any of our citizens, to include those who continue to serve the United States or those who formerly served, Iran will face severe consequences,” he added in a statement released by the White House.
“We will continue to bring to bear the full resources of the US Government to protect Americans,” he vowed.
The United States charged a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps on Wednesday with plotting to murder John Bolton, a national security adviser to former President Donald Trump.
The Justice Department alleged that Shahram Poursafi, also known as Mehdi Rezayi, 45, of Tehran, was likely motivated to kill Bolton in retaliation for the death of Qassem Soleimani, a commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps killed in a US drone strike in January 2020.
Poursafi was also prepared to pay $1 million for a second “job,” the department said.
Trump-era Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was the second target, according to Morgan Ortagus, who served as State Department spokesperson during his tenure.
Iran does not have an extradition treaty with the United States, and Poursafi remains at large. The FBI on Wednesday released a most-wanted poster.
Tehran condemned the US move.
“Iran strongly warns against any action against Iranian citizens under the pretext of these ridiculous and baseless accusations,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said.
It was not clear how the Revolutionary Guard - a powerful political faction in Iran which controls a business empire as well as elite armed and intelligence forces that Washington accuses of a global terrorist campaign - might react to the charges.
According to the criminal complaint, Poursafi asked a US resident identified only as “Individual A” to photograph Bolton, under the guise that the photos were needed for a forthcoming book. The US resident then introduced Poursafi to a covert government informant who could take the photographs for a price.
Investigators said the following month Poursafi contacted the informant on an encrypted messaging application and offered the person $250,000 to hire someone to “eliminate” Bolton - an amount that would later be negotiated up to $300,000.
When the informant asked Poursafi to be more specific in his request, he said he wanted “the guy” purged and provided Bolton's first and last name, according to a sworn statement in support of the complaint.
He later directed the informant to open a cryptocurrency account to facilitate the payment.
In subsequent communications, he allegedly told the informant it did not matter how the killing was carried out, but that his “group” would require a video as proof that the deed was done.
Multiple current and former US officials have extra security due to Iranian threats, CNN reported.
“I think it's quite correct to say many other Americans are in the targets of this regime,” Bolton told the network. “It tells you what the regime is. It tells you about its character.”